By Madeline Frank
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” What one thing do you want to change in your life, that will improve it?
In the 1930s a mother and her young son walked for many hours in the hot sun and waited in a long line to “have an audience with Mahatma Gandhi”.
She had tried many times to stop her son from eating sweets. Nothing she said stopped him from eating the sweets. So, she decided to take him to see his hero, Mahatma Gandhi.
When it was their turn to finally speak to Mahatma Gandhi. The mother said, “Mahatma, please tell my son he must stop eating sweets. It is ruining his health, his teeth, and affects his mood every time he eats sweets. There is nothing I can do to stop him from eating more and more sweets. I’m afraid it will ruin his life. Please, Mahatma, tell him to stop.”
Gandhi listened patiently to the mother looking at the young child, as he cowered by his mother’s side. Gandhi said, “Come back to me in two weeks’ time.”
The mother was disappointed and confused that Gandhi had not asked her son to just “stop eating sweets”. She and her son walked the long journey home.
Two weeks later, the mother and young son walked in the hot sun many miles to once again stand in line to wait their turn to speak to Mahatma Gandhi. When it was their turn, the mother said, “We have returned. We came to see you two weeks ago to help my boy to stop eating sweets, and you asked us to come back after two weeks.”
Gandhi said, “I remember.” Motioning for the boy to come forward. He said, “Come here, child.”
The child urged by his mother, moved away from her and moved slowly towards Gandhi. Gandhi reached over and “put his hands on the boy’s shoulders”, pulling him closer and looking the child squarely in the eyes said, “Don’t eat sweets.”.
The mother said, “That’s it? That’s all you’re going to say? Why didn’t you tell him that two weeks ago?”
Gandhi replied, “Because two weeks ago I was still eating sweets myself. I could not ask him to stop eating sweets so long as I had not stopped either.”
As a leader Gandhi had to change his bad habit to a good one so he could lead by example and model the right behavior for the child. Gandhi was a man of honor and character.
What one thing can you change in your life that will improve it? As a leader what one thing can you change and model for your employees that will make a difference in your company?